The eSports market is booming, and on its current trajectory, the number of people who watch and participate in eSports will grow from 395 million this year to 580 million by 2021 according to Newzoo. As the passion—and career opportunity—for eSports grows, colleges and universities are looking for ways to build gaming teams and gaming facilities into their athletic and academic programs.
In the case of SUNY Canton, the interest for an eSports program was already there. Upon program launch, tentative transfer students opted to stay, and the amount of interested new students grew. This year alone, SUNY Canton received 270 applications for its eSports-inspired major, Game Design & Development.
Putting the tools into place
However, before eSports became a reality at SUNY Canton, the school had to first evaluate its IT infrastructure to ensure it could support the new initiative. Strong wireless connections are critical to enable practice and play. The network infrastructure must support gaming devices and accessories, while also supporting associated academic work for gaming-related majors.
In part one of this series, Randy Sieminski of SUNY Canton shared how the school’s eSports program came to fruition. In part two, SUNY Canton’s Molly Mott covered how eSports blossomed into an academic program. In part three, we’ll share what’s required to power an eSports program from a technology standpoint.
Outfitting a state-of-the-art eSports arena
Before you can implement an eSports program, you need a place to play. Now that many colleges are jumping on the eSports bandwagon, the schools that stand out and can win are the ones with dedicated gaming arenas outfitted with advanced gaming tools and the latest technology.
Due to growing interest in eSports on campus and the need to take its program to the next level, SUNY Canton designed a state-of-the-art gaming arena with professional gaming PCs, Alienware gaming computers, gaming stations, and specialized mice and keyboards. The first step in the deployment process was setting up a gaming-quality Wi-Fi network. With that in mind, the school decided to partner with Extreme Networks. As the official Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi analytics provider for the NFL, its solutions are used in professional sports stadiums across the nation and around the world—the perfect fit for a collegiate eSports program looking to take its team to the next level.
Since advanced gaming technology works only as well as the network that powers it, SUNY Canton needed to ensure seamless, reliable, low-latency connections. As more colleges join the National Association of College Esports (NACE) and enter competitions hosted by organizations like the ECAC, being at a disadvantage due to poor network infrastructure, when milliseconds matter, is not an option.